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Utica’s Boilermaker Canceled for the First Time in 42 Years

The popular Mohawk Valley road race will go virtual instead, due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Boilermaker 15K in Utica has been canceled for the first time since 1978. (Boilermaker)

Utica’s world-famous Boilermaker 15K road race, which annually reins in runners from all over the world and the Capital Region—including, quite begrudgingly, this writer, several times—is canceling its live race for the first time in 42 years and instead taking it virtual, due to COVID-19 concerns.

In a message to runners, many of whom had already signed up months in advance and were in the middle of training for the hilly-as-hell race, the race’s nonprofit organizers asked would-be runners to “accept our sincere thanks for your unwavering patience and understanding as we’ve navigated the uncharted and turbulent waters of the coronavirus pandemic.” In April, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York State, Boilermaker organizers first postponed the event, which also includes a popular 5K, until September. But even with the Mohawk Valley a few steps ahead of the Capital Region in terms of its reopening plan, the Boilermaker, which annually reins in more than 10,000 runners, was clearly an “attractive nuisance” even the best planning couldn’t contain.

The road race, which welcomes in runners from all over the world—and generates millions of dollars for local and regional businesses—will now be run at participants’ discretion between September 1-13. Virtual runners are then being asked to report their time to the Boilermaker by no later than 12pm EST on September 13. “Finishers” will get a commemorative pint glass, race bib and finisher’s medal for the 15K and/or finisher’s pin for the 5K. (Unfortunately, unlike the live race, those that complete it will not be receiving the complimentary pint of Saranac beer—but be sure to grab a six-pack to make it “official.”)

The Boilermaker has been run in the streets of Utica since 1978, and has been a popular, competitive race for not only top high school and college athletes in the Capital Region and throughout the Northeast, but also national runners, wheelchair athletes and internationally renowned superstars. Boilermaker winners have shared up to $100,000 in prize money in recent years.

To sign up for the virtual race, click here.

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Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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